The Pittsburgh Steelers released five players including veteran outside linebacker Genard Avery as the team made its mandatory cut-down to 80 players before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.
Avery, wide receiver Christian Blake, running back Mateo Durant, kicker Nick Sciba and quarterback Chris Oladokun were all released as the Steelers cut under the roster limit.
The team will continue making cuts next Tuesday, when it must get all the way down from 80 players to the in-season maximum of 53.
Avery was signed by the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent from the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason, but had his spring and summer beset by injuries. Avery was not able to participate in any of the team’s spring OTAs and minicamp and then suffered a groin injury that kept him out of most of the early parts of training camp.
The Steelers have been continually looking to find answers to back up T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith at outside linebacker, a process made more urgent by Highsmith’s rib injury that has kept him out of work for most of the preseason. Since the start of training camp, the Steelers brought in Ron’Dell Carter, Hamilcar Rashed Jr. and James Vaughters, all of which beat out Avery.
Blake was a late addition to training camp, joining the Steelers on Aug. 11 after an injury to Javon McKinley opened up a roster spot. The 26-year-old played four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons from 2018-21, but did not make much of an impact with the Steelers. He had one catch for seven yards in two preseason games, while other bottom of the depth chart receivers like Tyler Snead, Steven Sims and Tyler Vaughns shine.
Durant joined the Steelers as an undrafted free agent out of Duke back in April. He had a long look as the Steelers searched for a backup to starter Najee Harris, but ultimately it was fellow undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren that impressed. Durant also missed about a week of training camp with an undisclosed injury. Former Washington State running back Max Borghi, who was just added to the team last week, beat out Durant in this round of cuts.
Sciba was also one of the Steelers’ early undrafted free agent signings, and he impressed throughout training camp. In two preseason games, he was 2 for 2 on field goals, hitting from 38 and 21 yards and 3 for 3 on extra points. He also averaged over 60 yards on his nine kickoffs, with two of them going for touchbacks.
The release of Oladokun, the second of the Steelers’ two seventh-round draft picks, was reported earlier on Tuesday.